% Mars. Now TIM ROBBINS
. his latest directorial
The hand that rooksthe
He's seen the state of things to come with sci-fi blockbuster Mission To
take a trip into America's past with Cradle Will Rock. At last year's Cannes Film Festival, he talked to The List about
Words: Miles Fielder
When Tim Robbins said. ‘You know. for kids’. he wasn’t quoting a line from The Hudsueker l’ro.t‘_v. his film with the Coen brothers. but justifying his role as an astronaut in Mission To Mars. It's a dumber than dumb film. but what the hey. Robbins‘ three children get to see daddy turned into a merchandising toy ﬁgure. Throughout his recent UK publicity tour — which involved as many inquiries into the actor/director‘s family life. including his thirteen year relationship with actress Susan Sarandon. as it did Mars probing — the actor/director kept tongue firmly
f in cheek while promoting his boy‘s own space
All of which was in marked contrast to the Robbins that attended a press lunch in Cannes last May. where he was promoting his latest directing effort. Cradle Will Rock. Perhaps it’s the serious line he took. explaining in great detail the film‘s historical background. or perhaps it was his impossibly tall (well over six feet), thin figure and his slightly greying hair. but Robbins appears more like an academic than the Peter Pan adult-boy Sarandon has likened him to. Or perhaps it‘s just the gulf between Mission To Mars’ space operatics and Cradle Will Rock’s heavyweight subject
Cradle Will Roek. which Robbins also wrote. is a kaleidoscopic view of 1930s New York. which intertwmes the lives of stage performers trying to
5 earn a living during the hard times of the Depression,
and captains of industry such as Nelson Rockefeller and William Randolph Hearst. Individual stories spiral into a single. climactic event: the staging of a socialist musical. The Cradle Will Roek. by ()rson Welles and John Houseman’s theatre company and its threatened closure by the US government. then intent on censoring what was deemed threatening communist material.
22 THE LIST 27 Apr—ll May 2000
'What started off as a story about a theatre company being censored began to grow into a wild cornucopia of ideas.’
‘This act of heroism screamed to be told'
‘I started reading about the production and became intoxicated with the idea, then it was just a matter of filling in the spaces.’ says Robbins in slow. measured tones. ‘There are different accounts of the night: different people take credit for it. One account says Welles gave a speech before the performance saying. “You. as Americans. can stand up and claim your freedom and your rights by performing in the play". I thought. "that‘s taken all the drama out of it”. The idea that the cast was given licence to perform really takes the credit away from where the credit is due. Then I ran into the assistant stage manager of the play. He said it was crazy. There was never a meeting; it was spontaneous.‘
‘This act of heroism screamed to be told.’ continues Robbins. “What started off as a story about a theatre company being censored began to grow into a wild cornucopia of ideas. The key was finding the common spirit that united the piece.’
For Robbins. that’s a celebration of artistic freedom. a subject that appeals to his liberal instincts. His two previous directing efforts engage with the theme of personal freedom. or rather the lack of it: through satire in his mock-documentary about a right-wing politician on the campaign trail. Bob Roberts. and via an unflinching look at capital punishment in Dead Man Walking.
These liberal instincts have. in the past. been equated with a political agenda by Hollywood and by the press. But for Robbins the content of his films. which he sees as essentially humanist and compassionate. is the opposite of political. With this agenda. Robbins reads Mission To Mars in a way that might equally apply to Cradle Will Rock: ‘A very
Lights, camera, action. . .
THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL has announced its line-up for next i month's glitzy, star-studded media frenzy on the Cote d'Azur. Among
the celluloid goodies to be screened are Lars von Trier’s musical with
Bjork, Dancer In The Dark, Ken
Loach's Bread And Roses, the Coen , brothers' 0 Brother, Where Art Thou, John Waters’ Cecil B.
Demented, Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Neil Labute's 3
1 Nurse Betty, Darren Aronofsky's l follow-up to Pi, Requiem For A
Dream, and an as yet untitled and unfinished new Wong (Chungking Express) Kar-Wai film. And those thousands of feet of spanking new
celluloid are bookended by Roland
loffe's (The Killing Fields) opening
l night film, Vatel, and Denys Arcand's (Jesus Of Montreal) closing night gala, the appropriately-titled
WRITE THAT SCREENPLAY, go to Hollywood, win praise, money and fame. Make your own Citizen Kane and retire into poverty and obscurity. But before you undertake such an adventure in the screen trade, you’ll I need to learn something about i screenwriting. The Write A Hot Script weekend masterclass Saturday 29—Sunday 30 April at G-MAC (formerly The Glasgow Film and Video Workshop) might be just the place. The two-day course - run by Elliot Grove, filmmaker and founder of Britain’s largest independent film festival, Raindance — covers everything from the art of storytelling to selling a script. Total Film described the course as, ’fresh, funny and Surprisingly unpatronising’. For further info call 020 7287 3833 or check the websne: www.raindance.co.uk
BOB’S YOUR UNCLE. Bob Monkhouse, that is, the television veteran from The Golden Shot and Celebrity Squares is on the look out for Scotland's brightest filmmakers.
. Bob will be filming his new show for BBC Choice, Bob Monkhouse’s DIY Film Club, in Scotland over the
exciting. visually stimulating story about discovery. 9
adventure and daring; courageous people risking it all.‘
Mission To Mars is currently on general release; Cradle Will Rock opens Fri 5 May. See review.
summer. If you're an aspiring director, sfx wiz, animator, whatever, give Bob's production team a call on 0141 338 3213.
m \. it 0 Brother, Where Art Thou, screening in Cannes